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Kill a whale to treat a pampered pooch? At least one Japanese pet food company has seen the light

I’m pleased to see that at least one Japanese company has decided to stop selling dog treats made from endangered fin whales. WDC, working with other NGOs (The Animal Welfare Institute, AWI); Environmental Investigation Agency, EIA and the Iruka & Kujira [Dolphin & Whale] Action Network, IKAN) exposed the fact that Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf was exporting fin whale meat to Japan where it was made into pet treats. Icelandic fin whale has been sold in Japan for human consumption since 2008, but its use in pet food suggests that new markets are being explored.

Within hours of our press release, one of the companies highlighted, Michinoku Farms, removed the products from sale. Michinoku had been offering the dried fin whale pet treats in various package sizes: 60 grams for  ¥609 (US$5.97/£3.89); 200g for ¥1680 (US$16.49/£10.74) and 500g for ¥3780 (US$37.13/£24.18). The product description identified the meat as being fin whale of Icelandic origin.

Takuma Konno, President of Michinoku Farms commented: “Maybe I was ignorant of the debate (about whaling), but it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people”

WDC warmly applauds this decision; however, it may not be the grand, altruistic gesture on behalf of whale conservation that it might initially appear. As is the case with sales of whale meat for human consumption in Japan, it appears that the market for Icelandic whale meat pet treats is poor.  For example, in mid-April this year, the Dingo pet store in Tokyo dropped prices on the 200g package of the Icelandic whale pet snack from ¥1680 to ¥1470 (US$14.45/₤9.40) labelling the product as a “bargain article.” In addition, Rakuten, the massive Japanese e-commerce website which owns Play.com, was selling the Michinoku Farms Icelandic fin whale meat dog treats in 50g and 250g packages, again at discounted prices.